Digger: Can you please
tell us a little bit about the background to Hammer Films Art?
Conrad: This is an
offshoot of my graphic design company. It started out as a
hobby following a project years ago when an art publisher
asked me how they could print to order rather than a full
edition which may not sell out. This was 16 or more years ago
and a friend had been asked to test digital cameras for a
company who had developed a digital camera and wanted to field
test it prior to offering it to professional studios. So,
together we worked out how to photograph an original piece of
art and fingerprint the digital data through a computer and
then a large format printer, which today is really the norm as
most people can do this. A few years later It transpired that
I got the rights to publish limited edition prints from an
Edwardian fairy book which we'd seen on the Antiques Roadshow,
and so when I got the chance to publish Hammer prints I knew I
could do an excellent job and here we are today hoping to
provide collectors prints to all the enthusiasts out there.
Digger: What is so
special about the Hammer genre and what is the enduring
fascination people have with Hammer?
Conrad: People of my age will always remember Friday nights at 11pm, I
think, when these horror films would be shown and if we had
been good enough we were allowed to watch them. It was
probably the fact that there had not been anything like them
on TV before and for a young lad the chance to see a semi-
naked pretty girl was worth the nightmares the film may have
caused. Now though, on looking back, I can appreciate the way
they scared you without all the sanitised gore we see today. There's something more scary when the mind is left to imagine
the horror rather than the in-your-face slashing of today's
films - the shower scene in Psycho is probably more disturbing
than a lot of the modern horror/shock movies.
Even now when you watch
them they have an indescribable aura/fascination about them,
similar to the old Dr Who - both timeless classics.
From what I can recall
Hammer was the first to produce these types of film and in a
way they were lucky to have Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing
as stars (or they made them stars) as they really became the
face of those early films - women at shows tell me they are
still haunted by Christopher Lee's staring eyes when he's
Digger: And why is Retro
in all its forms so popular with so many people these days?
I'm not sure but for myself it's a kind of 'trying to get the
good days back', our memories of youth maybe - Mods and
Rockers, VW camper vans, its a circle of trends I suppose.
Digger: Who are your
customers, where are they coming from and what sort of
feedback and comments are you getting from clients?
Conrad: The customers are mainly web-based, but with a
great response from fairs and collectors events. Overall the
feedbacks have been great, everyone loves the prints and are
blown away with the quality of print, paper and service we
give. Customers have been from UK, Europe and a lot from the US
Digger: Please tell
us more about the various art & print options you offer.
Conrad: At the moment we offer three sizes of prints on
Hahnemuhle fine art paper but can reproduce if a specific size
is required. But, as you saw on your visit, we have sampled
printing these iconic images direct to acrylic to give a very
contemporary result which again has had a very positive response.
Christopher Lee as Frankenstein's
monster, Valerie Leon in Blood From The Mummy's Tomb
and Madeline Smith in Taste The Blood Of Dracula
Digger: What is the ethos
of the company and what are your USP's?
I try, and do, succeed in producing a very high standard of
product at the right pricing so its available to all. All the
papers and mounts are archival and conservational quality,
recognised by the Fine Art Trade Guild and the inks are 125yrs
lightfast - but if in 130 years your print starts to fade I'll
happily send another Free of Charge!
Digger: Can you tell us
more about your Fairies business?
Conrad: The Edwardian collection of fairy prints are
from a hand-made, hand- written and illustrated book a lady wrote
and illustrated. She even tooled the leather cover, which was
never published, so its unique, and I got the chance to
publish. It took me 12 months, on and off, to get the papers and
colours or the edition correct to the originals which are
absolutely superb watercolours. The story is of a boy who the
fairies think is too perfect for the human world so they take
him into theirs where the goblins capture him. It takes
mother nature to send the seven divas to his rescue, following
which she has all the world's fairies, nymphs etc. to a
celebration and each has a detailed illustration - even an
Egyptian one which is unknown of. Anyway, you have to see them
to appreciate the quality. visit for
Digger: What items tend
to be the biggest sellers?
Conrad: The biggest
seller in the Hammer collection? There are 6 or 7 which sell
more than the others, Dracula, Frankenstein, Twins of Evil,
Valerie Leon, Ingrid Pitt and Yutte Stensgaard to name but a
few - everyone has a different favourite. Women buy the
glamour ones for their husbands, as they find it funny they
still sigh over the actresses now. One girl wanted
Dracula so she could replicate it as a tattoo on her thigh! An
eleven year old lad came up and told me all about Hammer and
their early years and which were his favourite films ( all
classics) though he was not interested in the newer stuff. It
seems though that there are various age groups who are into
it and they all have different tastes.
Digger: What do you most
enjoy about running the Hammer Films Art?
Conrad: The shows where
you get to meet the collectors and enthusiasts and the chats
you can have with them as they are all so into 'Hammer'
Digger: Where do you see
the future for Hammer Films Art?
Conrad: I would hope we
could expand the number of images available, but the intricate
copyright issues will have to be sorted with Hammer first